Presidential First Pitches

# 1 William Hoard Taft USA President # 27 Republican Term:: 1909-1913

# 1 William Howard Taft
USA President # 27
Republican
Term:: 1909-1913

Presidents of the United States have been throwing out documented first pitches of the baseball season in Washington or elsewhere since the administration of William Howard Taft. If any chief executives before Taft ever did the same, it occurred in eras in which there either were no cameras to record it or it simply was an earlier time in which the art of photography was considered too complex and cumbersome to do outside a studio.

A few of these first pitch presidents shown here were pretty knowledegeable of baseball, with Nixon, Reagan, Eisenhower and the two Bushes probably ranking at the head of the class and most likely to have been members of SABR under different life circumstances. The rest ranged from avid home town fans to casual fans to indifferents who understood the potential loss of political support from baseball fans had they chosen on the basis of apathey not to throw out a first ball somewhere voting support was critical.

Ronald Reagan is the only former president to have been a former baseball radio play-by-play guy and later an actor who had portrayed the life of a Hall of Fame pitcher in the movies. Reagan played the lead role of Grover Cleveland Alexander in the 1952 film, “The Winning Team”. Coincidentally to his appearance in that role, Reagan also became the only United States President to have made a co-starring movie with actress Doris Day.

Incidental to this population of 18 presidents are these two basic facts: 10 were Republicans and 8 were Democrats. 14 were right handed and 4 were lefties.

Here is our pictorial on the 17 remaining “first pitch presidents”:

# 1 Woodrow Wilson USA President # 28 Democrat Term:: 1913-1921

# 2 Woodrow Wilson
USA President # 28
Democrat
Term:: 1913-1921

# 3 Warren G. Harding USA President # 29 Republican Term:: 1921-1923

# 3 Warren G. Harding
USA President # 29
Republican
Term:: 1921-1923

    # 1 Calvin Coolidge     USA President # 30     Republican     Term:: 1923-1929

# 4 Calvin Coolidge
USA President # 30
Republican
Term:: 1923-1929

    # 4 Calvin Coolidge     USA President # 31 Herbert Hoover     Republican     Term:: 1929-1933

# 5 Herbert Hoover
USA President # 31
Republican
Term:: 1929-1933

    # 6 Franklin Delano Roosevelt     USA President # 32     Democrat     Term:: 1933-1945

# 6 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
USA President # 32
Democrat
Term:: 1933-1945

    # 7 Harry S. TRUMAN     USA President # 33     Democrat     Term:: 1945-1953

# 7 Harry S. TRUMAN
USA President # 33
Democrat
Term:: 1945-1953

    # 8 Dwight David Eisenhower     USA President # 34     Republican     Term:: 1953-1961

# 8 Dwight David Eisenhower
USA President # 34
Republican
Term:: 1953-1961

    # 9 John Fitzgerald Kennedy     USA President # 35     Democrat     Term:: 1961-1963

# 9 John Fitzgerald Kennedy
USA President # 35
Democrat
Term:: 1961-1963

    # 10 Lyndon Baines Johnson     USA President # 36     Democrat     Term:: 1963-1969

# 10 Lyndon Baines Johnson
USA President # 36
Democrat
Term:: 1963-1969

    # 11Richard Milhous Nixon     USA President # 37     Republican     Term:: 1969-1974

# 11 Richard Nixon
USA President # 37
Republican
Term:: 1969-1974

    # 12 Gerald Ford     USA President # 38     Republican     Term:: 1974-1977

# 12 Gerald Ford
USA President # 38
Republican
Term:: 1974-1977

    # 13 Jimmy Carter     USA President # 39     Democrat      Term:: 1977-1981

# 13 Jimmy Carter
USA President # 39
Democrat
Term:: 1977-1981

    # 14 Ronald Reagan     USA President # 40     Republican     Term:: 1981-1989

# 14 Ronald Reagan
USA President # 40
Republican
Term:: 1981-1989

    # 15 George H.W. Bush     USA President # 41     Republican     Term:: 1989-19893

# 15 George H.W. Bush
USA President # 41
Republican
Term:: 1989-1993

    # 16 Bill Clinton     USA President # 42     Democrat     Term:: 1993-2001

# 16 Bill Clinton
USA President # 42
Democrat
Term:: 1993-2001

    # 17 George W. Bush     USA President # 43     Republican     Term:: 2001-2009

# 17 George W. Bush
USA President # 43
Republican
Term:: 2001-2009

    # 18 Barack Obama     USA President # 44     2009 to Presentt Time, 2015 Projecte  Term:: 2009-2017

# 18 Barack Obama
USA President # 44
Democrat
Projected Full Term:: 2009-2017

 

Have a nice weekend, everybody, and lick your chops, fellow game action starved baseball fans! – Spring training has begun and the first pitch of the regular 2015 season in professional baseball is only a little more than a month away. In the meanwhile  and beyond too, Houston fans, try to catch some of the  great amateur level ball that is already underway for the #3 ranked Houston Cougars and the always highly regarded Rice Owls. – Consider throwing some of that “love of the game” you possess toward the idea of also actively supporting college, high school, and youth baseball fully this season. These younger people aren’t (yet) playing for the big bucks and most never will, but their own love and drive to play the game at a high level will be rapidly apparent to you at the various ball fields around Houston – or at your own home town.

It’s our game, friends! Let’s do all we can to enjoy and support the game as actively as possible. And, Houston area folks, please don’t forget the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters while your window shopping for baseball fun. That place is good baseball in a beautifully nostalgic ballpark and a lot of good clean fun for the whole family. Between the Skeeters and our resurrecting 2015 Houston Astros, this season could well see winning move through possible on its way to probable at Minute Maid Park – and with a possibility of UH and Rice both reaching Omaha for a NCAA college baseball crown.

It’s spring. Hope springs eternal.

Tags:

4 Responses to “Presidential First Pitches”

  1. Rick B. Says:

    Bill,
    Looking at the pictures you posted brought to mind a question I’ve had to which you perhaps know the answer; if not you, then maybe another TPPE reader. The question is: When and why was the change made from throwing out the first pitch from the stands to throwing it from the mound? Obviously it makes more sense to throw it from the mound, but it’s still a fairy recent change (I can recall people still throwing first pitches from the stands into the 1980s).

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      I have no specific idea either, Rick, but thanks to your question, maybe we shall both now find out. My memory too is that the shift from stands to mound transpired some time in the past 25 to 40 years. My impression has been that it occurred to make the previous “honor” a new part of the PR and marketing plan. Now some places, as you well know, have what seems like a baker’s dozen parade of people throwing out the first “balls”, less often as honored figures of baseball history, and more often as corporate officers of a club’s most important commercial sponsors, or else, they are a few individuals who step to the mound who won their right to do so in a church raffle, or by being the high bidder for the job at a silent auction for charity.

      Wonderful older players like Red Mahoney and Larry Miggins have been so honored by first pitches at Constellation Field, but it would have been more meaningful if they had been allowed to have had the honor of throwing out the only first pitch of the game. – Come to think of it, isn’t a game possessing several “first pitches”, either or both, a mathematical impossibility – and/or – a major contradiction as a meaningful term?

      Oh well. – I also do “get” the marketing interest that clubs today have in making it mostly a corporate thing and mass exercise. That’s OK too, Things change. It just doesn’t mean what we like to think it used to mean. – And who knows? Maybe it was always just a marketing shill – one that started with presidents.

  2. Tom Hunter Says:

    Bill,

    You may have to amend your box score of left-handers and right-handers. In 1950, Harry Truman threw out two balls: one left-handed and one right-handed. President Taft actually played baseball, and I thought when I was a kid that JFK had the best form of any previous President. And both Bushes played baseball and made good throws. What made W’s first pitch at Yankee Stadium during the World Series just after 9/11 impressive was the fact that he threw a strike from the pitcher’s rubber while wearing a bullet-proof vest.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Bullet-proof-like vests would be a good idea for a number of roster pitchers who CANNOT throw strikes from the rubber. Maybe these would serve as a remedial reminder that, perhaps on a slightly less lethal level, that there are negative consequences for redundantly poor performance in baseball and almost all other areas of life. The only exception to the rule is employment in the federal bureaucracy – with the U.S. Postal Service jumping immediately to mind as probably the most commonly felt sting from that little sad truth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: